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Successful entrepreneur who bridges business and academia is Lynn’s new business dean

Thomas Kruczek has a proven record of bringing the academic and business worlds together

Published Jul. 13, 2011

Thomas KruczekAfter a nationwide search, Lynn University is proud to name the new dean of its College of Business and Management. Thomas Kruczek will be leaving his position as executive director of the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University to join Lynn as the new dean starting on Aug. 1.

Under Kruczek’s direction, the Falcone Center rose in the national rankings and is now listed as the No. 3 entrepreneurship program in the country by Bloomberg/Business Week, 7th by the Princeton Review/Entrepreneur Magazine and 9th in America by US News and World Report.

“He teaches people how to build businesses and builds the entrepreneur within business students,” Lynn University President Kevin M. Ross said. “He also knows how to build bridges between the academic world and industry. His proven success in reaching out to the local business community is one of the main reasons we are excited to have him join us.”

The Falcone Center expanded its outreach to entrepreneurs both inside and outside of the university under Kruczek’s leadership. The center’s outreach to local community entrepreneurs includes the Syracuse Entrepreneurs Bootcamp, the South Side Innovation Center (an incubator for local entrepreneurs) and the WISE Center (Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship). The community incubator was one of two nominated in 2010 for the Incubator of the Year Award by the National Business Incubator Association.

The center offers a number of services to help students and members of the community start up and grow businesses, including the D’Aniello Internship program and the Couri Hatchery, a campus-wide incubator for student businesses. He also marketed and executed the Panasci Business Plan Competition (which offers a $45,000 prize), and other competitions that involve more than 120 business plans and 600 students.

His outreach to industry was also lauded before he was at Syracuse when he served as the executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Rollins College in Orlando, Fla. While under his leadership, the program was ranked for the first time by Entrepreneur Magazine and the Princeton Review within the top 25 graduate programs in the nation. Kruczek credits focused work with students while simultaneously reaching out to the local community as the driving force behind the improved rankings.

“We were not only active in our university but we were reaching into the community, through internships, consulting class opportunities, work with the local chamber of commerce and other activities,” Kruczek said. “I think that motivated the Princeton Review to say they really liked our program.”

Kruczek brings his ideas about bridging the worlds of academia and industry to build opportunities to Lynn.

“When I came for the interview one of the things that astonished me was the number of companies that have headquarters in Boca Raton. It's extraordinary,” Kruczek said. “I’m looking to do the same at Lynn—go out in the community and introduce us to entrepreneurs, businesses and others in the community and get them further engaged with Lynn’s resources.”

Part of his interest in reaching out to the business community and helping people who want to start up businesses comes from Kruczek’s belief that entrepreneurs hold the best hope for our country’s economic future.

“To me it's the entrepreneurs in many cases who are going to be the ones helping us out of these economic doldrums,” Kruczek said. “Companies who are starting, growing and hiring people, that's where the real recovery is going to come from.”

Prior to his years in higher education, Kruczek spent more than two decades in Florida businesses starting at one of America’s most storied brands, the Walt Disney Company.

“I give a presentation, ‘I learned about entrepreneurship from a mouse,’” Kruczek said. “That's where I started thinking about entrepreneurship. If I learned nothing else from Disney, I learned about how important stories are. This is something I now apply in the classroom. There is nothing that brings a lesson alive like a good story.”

After leaving Disney in 1988, he started and built up several businesses in Florida’s tourism, hospitality and manufacturing industries. All of his ventures were eventually sold as successful companies.

If he could impart once piece of advice from his years in business, he said he would tell entrepreneurs they need to have “focus, passion and a good business plan.”

More on Kruczek

Kruczek has successfully helped local businesses grow and prosper for years and believes that Florida’s entrepreneurs can help turn around the state’s economy by growing their businesses and hiring local workers.

Women entrepreneurs have received a great amount of help from Kruczek’s programs at Syracuse and Rollins College. The WISE Center (mentioned above) brought together thousands of women business owners in the last few years—more than 1,000 attended a center symposium last year. At Rollins, he was the director of the Central Florida Chapter of the ATHENA PowerLink program which mentors women-owned businesses.

He received his MBA and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Notre Dame.

Kruczek is available to speak about how higher education can help the business community, entrepreneurship and their important role in our economy, women entrepreneurs and various other topics related to starting and running a business.